A. There are many variables, such as the size and shape of the room(s) to be used and the style of the wedding. In general, decorations consist of a screen or backdrop of greens or a dark drapery behind the improvised altar and vases of flowers in the windows, on newel posts and on occasional tables. If there is a fireplace, it may be filled with greens and the mantel decorated with green roping or an arrangement of greens and flowers. If you are having an altar rail, decorating it with greens and placing, tall stands holding flower arrangements creates a lovely frame for the ceremony.
If you are serving refreshments in another room, table decorations may be either white or pastels that complement the bridesmaids' dresses and flowers.
Q. How do we plan flowers for the hall where the reception will be held?
A. When you meet with the caterer, decorating is one of the topics on your checklist. Often the caterer is able to include flowers in the overall arrangements you make with him or her. If you prefer to supply your own flowers from the florist or your garden, the caterer can recommend what is customarily used to decorate the hall.
Generally, flowers are white, white mixed with colors or pastel shades chosen to blend with the colors of the bridal party or the tablecloths.
A buffet table may have a bowl of flowers for a centerpiece if the cake is not being used. The bridal table usually has a low, centered floral arrangement so the bridal couple is not hidden from the guests, and often one or two more arrangements at each side if the table is long. Candles may be used, too, for an evening ' or after-dusk reception, but not for a morning or early afternoon reception. Guests' tables generally each have a small floral arrangement.
Other than the flowers on the tables, the only decoration is near or behind the receiving line—either a bank of greens, a fireplace with a bowl of flowers at each end or a stanchion topped with a vase of flowers at each end.
Q. How. can we .make our large church seem more intimate for our small wedding service?
A. One effective decorating technique is to rent pots of shrubbery to form a "hedge" in front of the pews that will not be occupied. If the altar, chancel and occupied pews are brightly lighted and the area behind the screen of greens is left almost dark, the part of the church you are using will seem more intimate. Although your guests would use the aisle, the wedding party would enter from the vestry or waiting room rather than proceeding down the long, dark aisle.
Or, if there are choir stalls, use them as pews and have only the chancel lighted. This gives the smallest wedding all the solemn beauty of church surroundings but in a warm environment.
Q. What can be done with flowers from the church and reception after the wedding?
A. There are several thoughtful ways to. share the flowers from your wedding. You may donate the ceremony flowers to the church, especially if your wedding is on a Saturday, for services the following day. If you plan to do this, be sure to consult with the clergyman or sexton so other flowers are not ordered for that day. You also may have the church and reception flowers delivered to. a hospital or nursing home to be given to people who need cheering up. It is also thoughtful to send some of the flowers to a close friend or relative too ill to attend the wedding.
Q. When should, we visit and select a photographer and what should we discuss?
A. You should reserve a photographer's time as. soon as possible after you have confirmed the date, time and place of your ceremony and reception. In order to select a photographer, ask to see his or her portfolio and discuss the kinds of pictures you wish to have— both candid and formal. Your formal portrait is taken as soon as your wedding dress is ready—at least three weeks before the ceremony. This is especially important if you wish to have a picture of yourself in your bridal gown appear in the newspaper.
The candid photographs often begin with the bride's leaving the house before the wedding and continue through the day. You should discuss the schedule of the day with the photographer, how soon after the ceremony he or she may begin taking pictures (it is distracting and in poor taste to take pictures during the actual ceremony) based on your discussion with the clergyman, and when the formal pictures of the bridal party will be taken.
You should, of course, discuss cost and obtain a written estimate or contract once you have selected a photographer. Most charge a flat fee for the day and present you with the proofs to select those photographs you want printed at an additional charge per print. Others include an album with a certain number of prints included in the fee. Include the questions in the following list in your discussion.
What does a wedding "package" consist of? What is the cost for additions? How many photographs will be taken? What is the number of pages in the photographer's standard wedding album? What does it cost per extra album page? What is the size and cost of extra albums? What is the cost of keeping proofs?
Some photographers expect beverages and a meal. Be sure to check this cost with your caterer before discussing it with the photographer.
Q. Should divorced parents appear together in a photograph with the bride and groom?
A. No. Each one should have a picture taken with the couple separately.
Q. Should stepparents be included in the photographs?
A. Yes, if they are on friendly terms with the bride and groom.
Q. Does my family give a wedding album to the groom's family or should they order pictures themselves? What about pictures for my attendants?
A. Your family may give the groom's parents an album if they wish to, but it is not expected. More generally, the groom's family are shown the proofs and select as many photographs as they would like. The bride's mother places their order, but the bill is sent to the groom's parents. Your attendants may also order and pay for pictures they would like to have. You may, of course, select and order a picture of your attendants and give it to them as a memento, but it is not expected that you do so.
Q. When and how should we select musicians for the reception?
A. As soon as you set your wedding date you should hire the musicians, since many are reserved months in advance. The size and formality of your wedding determines the type of music at the reception. It may be provided by anything from a record player to a ten-piece band. At some very formal weddings there are two orchestras so there is continuous music. At other receptions, a strolling accordionist, guitarist or pianist provides the background music. The choice is yours, keeping in mind the preferences of your guests and providing a balance of contemporary music and slower, softer nines.
These are considerations when you are selecting musicians. If you do not know of any, the caterer is often able to make recommendations. You also may check the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory and ask friends for referrals. Usually, a group in which you are interested will be able to give you a schedule of other appearances they are making so you can listen to them before making your choice.
As you make your selection, discuss the length of the reception, their price, the cost of overtime should you wish to extend the reception, specific songs you would like played and the number and length of the breaks they will take. Often an orchestra or group expects beverages and/or. a meal, and this is something you should discuss with your caterer as well.
Q. What music is appropriate for a religious ceremony?
A. There are many appropriate and lovely pieces from which to choose, including the traditional "Wedding March" by Wagner for a processional and Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" for a recessional. There are many other triumphal hymns and marches, and it is best to check with the organist to be sure they are approved by the church.
Background organ music played while your guests arrive at the church is customary. This is also a time when guest musicians—guitarists, flutists, etc.— play. Again, check your selections with the organist since most churches will not allow- popular music. A selected list of appropriate music—also excellent choices for a soloist—might include:
- "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" by Bach
- "Ave Maria" by Schubert
- Chorale Prelude, "In Thee Is Joy" by Bach
- "The Lord's Prayer" by Malotte
- "Liebestraum" by Liszt
- "Biblical Songs" by Dvorak
- "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" by Beethoven
- "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" by Hinsworth